2013-03-21 / Front Page

Rates set for Ft. Getty pavilion

Out-of-towners will pay twice as much as residents
By Margo Sullivan

Tourists and out-of-towners will be able to rent the Col. John C. Rembijas Memorial Pavilion at Fort Getty, the Town Council decided at its Monday meeting. However, the cost will be double the charge that residents pay.

The charge for residents is $200 during the week and $300 on weekends, including Friday evenings. Nonresidents will pay $400 weekdays and $600 weekends.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser had proposed charging a flat $1,000 per diem for all seven days of the week, but no councilors seconded the motion, which Councilor Mary Meagher offered.

Councilor Eugene Mihaly said he wanted to see a lower rate set for out-of-town nonprofit organizations. “What if the Boy Scouts wanted to use it?” he asked.

Council President Kristine Trocki said the scouts would come under the exception of nonprofit organizations, but the councilors then questioned whether out-oftown nonprofits could qualify.

Councilor Thomas Tighe suggested just “doubling the rate” for nonresidents, and the councilors ultimately settled on the arrangement.

Up to now, nonresidents had to be sponsored by a Jamestowner to use the pavilion.

Under the new plan, nonresidents could apply without a sponsor but would have to wait to make reservations so Jamestowners would be assured of having pref- erence.

The councilors also suggested the out-of-town reservations could start April 1, but then opted to let staff make a decision about the date.

Recreation Director Bill Piva said he would like to offer the facility to more people, although he is doubtful there will be much demand from out-of-towners. So far this year, he said, he has not received any requests from nonresidents about the pavilion. According to Piva, most of the prime dates have already been reserved by residents, although some Sundays are still available.

Trocki said the pavilion is new and many people do not yet know about it. She said demand may increase as word spreads, and now is the time to put the policy on the books. The pavilion might become a popular location for weddings, she added.

In other business, the councilors are moving forward with plans to replace the golf course building. The next step will be to discuss the situation with the tenants who currently operate the Jamestown Golf Course.

Keiser said he hopes to speak with the Mistowskis later this week.

The first question should be to ascertain the golf course operator’s minimum square footage requirements, Mihaly said. The lease requires the town to provide the tenants with a clubhouse. The golf course has been using the basement of the building for storage space.

However, the town could ultimately decide to replace the building with a larger facility, Keiser said, adding there are a lot of options. The plan is to engage residents in the discussion.

“What are the preferred uses?” Keiser asked. For example, some residents have mentioned using the building for weddings and banquets. If so, the staff would need to conduct a feasibility study to assess market demands.

One concern, he said, would be constructing a facility that was too small.

Trocki said she wanted to see talks start the second week in April. However, the meeting would not be a formal public hearing.

Meagher said the April session would be “more of a workshop to bounce ideas off.” She said the councilors wanted to have a townwide discussion about the golf course building.

Mihaly said he would like to see the discussions begin as soon as possible. Ideally, he added, the consultants who are vying to tackle the rec department study should attend the meeting because some uses for the new building might be recreation programs. After considering the logistics and expense of bringing the candidates in for the second week in April, Meagher suggested holding their interviews on the same day as the meeting.

Keiser said April 2 is the deadline for the consultants to apply, so that arrangement would work. So far, he has received responses from four candidates who have expressed “strong” interest in the rec department project.

In other matters, the council has agreed to revisit an issue about using Harbor Commission funds for town-wide projects.

Harbor Chairman Michael de Angeli had written to the council asking to have the matter put on its agenda. He received a reply from Councilor Blake Dickinson, who said there wasn’t time during this budget cycle to have the discussion.

Dickinson said after the meeting that he meant the issues were important and would require time to consider.

Monday night, before the councilors accepted the Harbor Commission’s budget for fiscal year 2014, de Angeli told them the Harbor Commission can’t afford to pay for half the costs of the East Ferry seawall repairs. The previous council made the decision for the harbor panel to chip in.

“I want to go on the record. We’re submitting this under protest,” de Angeli said, referring to the commission’s budget. He went on to say the past council had “forced” the financial arrangement on the harbor commissioners, and it was a bad decision.

“It leaves us almost nothing in reserves,” he said.

He called the financial obligation “a really bad idea,” and added it was bad policy that led to bad planning.

Essentially, he said, the town is using harbor money to finance road repairs.

One more storm, de Angeli said, and the commissioners would wind up coming to the council “hat in hand” and asking for money to pay for waterfront damage.

Meagher said the issues did deserve consideration, but now was not the right time due to pressure to finalize the budget. She added de Angeli must also be under pressure to send out letters about mooring fees.

The commissioners voted to keep the mooring fees the same, and with council approval, they could now notify the mooring holders.

De Angeli agreed he wanted the council to accept the operating budget. But the problem was the capital budget, he said.

Despite his request, the councilors accepted both the Harbor Commission’s operating and capital budgets for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.

Keiser said the harbor budget had been developed with staff and does include a contribution toward the seawall project.

After de Angeli left the council meeting, Mihaly said the councilors should contact de Angeli and confirm they will revisit the past decision that has required the Harbor Commission to pay half the cost of the East Ferry seawall repairs.

But the discussion will have to wait until the budget season ends, the councilors said.

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